Before we get down to it, remember if you’re looking for a new role yourself to check out the Econsultancy jobs board.
Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do?
Remy Brooks: I’m a senior strategist at Friday, a specialist service design and engineering agency that helps organisations to articulate their digital strategy, and designs and builds digital products and services.
My role always starts with understanding our clients’ end-user needs and behaviours, as well as their business, brief, and the external competitive and technological environment they’re operating in.
Taking these inputs, I work with the team to articulate and visualise a strategic direction that addresses their core challenge from a customer point of view. Together we design and manage the products and services that bring the strategy to life, and look for opportunities to continue supporting our clients in their programmes of change.
E: Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
RB: We work in multi-disciplinary teams bringing designers, UX’ers, engineers, strategists, delivery managers and our clients together. We have a team of strategists at Friday, and I report to the head of strategy, Estelle Ricoux.
E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
RB: Curiosity and communication.
Being excited and energised by fresh and often complex challenges is essential. I think clients work with us because we genuinely care about solving their problem and about their end users. They value the perspective we bring by being curious and asking the right questions.
Communication is key to creating stories that both senior client stakeholders and colleagues can buy into and rally behind. Articulating ideas is a bit of an art-form, and one I’m still perfecting! But it’s a skill that you can always work on, craft, and hone while developing your own style.
E: Tell us about a typical working day…
RB: There’s no such thing really!
My day might consist of anything from interviewing a client’s customers, to running a workshop with senior stakeholders, trying to find insights and patterns in analytics data and writing user stories and Jira tickets.
One of the key parts of my role is to work with clients on defining their strategic direction. To do this, we use a proprietary process called Target Customer Experience, where we sketch pictures of an exciting and ambitious, yet plausible picture of the future experience from the customer perspective. I’ve been working on one with a global trade bank to visualise the future of customer support, and it really lets me stretch my creative muscles.
E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?
RB: I love the variety of challenges I get to tackle, the leeway we have to come up with creative solutions, and the complexity of the problems we’re briefed with.
Many of our clients’ businesses are operating globally, in highly regulated environments, with real constraints, which really push us to be creative. This means we need to get underneath the skin of the problem to deliver effective solutions.
There are always challenges, context-switching being one, but nothing really sucks in my role. I get to solve different, interesting and complex problems every day.
E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
RB: My goals are to help spot opportunities within the projects I’m working on that go beyond the brief, and starting to build a more long-term partnership and strategic advisory role with our clients.
As we often work on developing new digital propositions for our clients, our work is more akin to launching a new business or venture, where you’re searching for validation and metrics that indicate you’re headed in the right direction. So I advocate taking a more long-term outlook when measuring success, as we’re often on a journey of organisational transformation.
E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
RB: A blank sheet of paper and a pen.
We’re super visual here. Drawing pictures of the target customer experience is a powerful way to visualise strategy, and show how an Excel spreadsheet of requirements actually translates into a real customer experience.
Techmeme is a daily destination to keep up to date with the latest news in technology and digital.
Nuzzel is one of my favourite services. It takes the people I follow on Twitter and Facebook, and shows me which links have been shared most often in the last 24 hours. It’s invaluable as a source for breaking news, but mostly for broadening my horizons beyond my bookmarks.
And Notes on my iPhone is where the thoughts and ideas that come to me on the tube go to find a home.
E: How did you get into design and strategy, and where might you go from here?
RB: After a brief stint in PR, I spent a few years working in product management at a start-up, creating and developing digital products and content for people working in the marketing industry. The role happened to be quite strategic, so the progression into my current role was very natural.
E: Which design cultures do you admire?
RB: I admire Amazon’s agility and their ability to experiment despite being a huge organisation. Maintaining that philosophy and attitude at such scale is something to be admired, and is very rarely achieved.
The Outline has this dedication to the “weird” that I love. Their attitude towards mobile, advertising and design, stand out in what currently feels a bit like a sea of design same-ness.
E: Do you have any advice for people who want to ‘do strategy’?
RB: Be curious and spend time working at it. Question why things are the way they are, what might have led intelligent people to make those decisions, and what users actually want or need.
Practice your presentation and storytelling skills at every opportunity. Analyse your own style. Find what works for you and evolve it over time.
And being empathetic helps. Being able to put yourself in your clients or users shoes, understand their pain points, what they need, and what might delight them will help you develop strategies, products and propositions which solve real problems.